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Chiropractic and Low Back Pain

By Robert Hermann DC, Chiropractor at Hermann Wellness in Bloomington, IL

Low back pain can have a variety of causes. The pain can be caused by an aortic aneurysm, prostate problems, endometriosis, compression fractures, cancer, infection or ankylosing spondylitis. Although conditions like these can cause low back pain they cause less than 2% of low back pain.  98% of low back pain is mechanical in origin.  This means that muscles, ligaments, tendons and disc herniation problems are the generator of the pain with low back problems. These tissues become inflamed and painful because of some mechanical stress on the structure.  So if you're having low back pain the question you should ask is "what is generating the pain"?  Orthopedic and neurologic tests are designed to narrow in on which tissue is the pain generator. Let's see how asking a few simple questions can help you to determine where your pain is coming from.

Do you have low back pain and pain, numbness or tingling radiating down your leg? If the answer is yes then it's likely that you have pressure on one of the nerves in your lower back that run into your legs.  This is called sciatica.

Do you have low back pain that is on one side of your back?  Are you able to localize this pain to about the size of a quarter?  Does this back pain get worse when you lean back or extend your back?  If you answered yes to these questions it is likely that you have facet irritation.The facet joints are joints on both sides of the vertebrae that interlocked with the vertebrae above and below it. Usually only one facet joint is irritated either the left or the right side. This will produce an area of pain about the size of a quarter a little bit to the left or right in your lower back.

Do you have pain a little bit lower then your waistline and off to the left or right side?  This pain can be very sharp.  It is often aggravated by walking up steps or laying on your side with the painful side down.  During the middle of the night, do you wake up, feel pretty good, and then have pain when you start to turn over?Does this pain get worse when you're walking and putting weight down on your leg on the painful side? These are all signs of a sacroiliac problem. The sacroiliac is a joint between your sacrum (or your tailbone), and your ilium which is the top part of your pelvis. Since no one wants to say sacroiliac (since it's a tongue twister) doctors will say SI for short.

Is your pain on both sides of your lower back?  Is this pain dull and achy? Is it a nonspecific pain and difficult to pinpoint? This pain could be muscular or it could be a disc injury that is not putting pressure on the nerve root.

Is your low back stiff and painful when you first wake up in the morning?  Does it improve when you get up and walk around a little bit?  If so it is likely that you have degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease has many names. These are: arthritis, spondylosis, discogenic spondylosis, triple joint disease, or DJD. Degenerative disc disease can cause a narrowing of the canal that your spinal cord runs through or a narrowing of the hole that the nerve root exits.  In your body any hole that is narrower than it is supposed to be is called stenosis. As the disk degenerates the two vertebrae become closer together and this causes stenosis.

If you come to our office,we will do orthopedic and neurologic tests that will try to narrow in on exactly where the pain is coming from. many times the pain generator can be determined by doing these tests.  Sometimes x-rays or an MRI is needed to further evaluate your lower back.

Why live in pain? Call our office at 309 663-2423 and let's get started getting rid of your pain.

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